Welcome to the third edition in the series of my social media articles in which I’ll be discussing what it says on the tin. The good, the bad and the ugly elements of the way in which we, as Bolton fans, present ourselves as a footballing community online.
It’s widely recognised that our fanbase’s online presence tends to host a number of different fronts and attitudes which, alarmingly quickly, generates how we are perceived, not only as individuals, but as a football club from an external perspective.
Those of us who share our opinions online in whatever format, be it under the #bwfc hashtag, be it in a forum or even in the form of any article just like this one, are judged on whatever is consciously posted by ourselves and is then there for the world to see and that needs to be re-iterated.
I must note that this only applies to the minority as the majority of our fanbase online is one which we, as fellow supporters and bystanders, can be proud of. However, for those select few, a reminder wouldn’t go a miss given that an initially minor incident from a minor group can soon become much more than that and eventually reflects badly on the club and the rest of us.
An issue which I’ve picked up on recently is certain sections of our fanbase who believe that they are immune or are just blindly oblivious to the consequences that follow on from whatever is produced from our social media accounts and outlets.
This has lead to numerous scenarios where various individuals or groups have been either targeted by the wider media who scrape the barrel to make a story out of seeing one of us making a plonker out of ourselves and/or by official individuals or groups which results in either a request of removal, the termination of association or even prosecution, depending on it’s severity.
Generally speaking, from memory, there hasn't been many cases whereby it has gotten to such a severe level, but there are thousands of examples which can be used from our fanbase as well as other club’s supporters who’s five minutes (or seconds as it is now) of fame has backfired on them once it goes viral and immediately closes doors for them in the future to the point where employment is impossible.
It is important that I clarify that this article is in no way directed at any specific individuals, but is purely just words of advice from someone who can relate to such issues as a typical teenager who lives on social media and understands the dangers of it and why it’s crucial that we can prevent ourselves from gaining an unwanted reputation as a fanbase respectively.
With the ugly perspective out the way, let’s talk about the bad. Now, poor content and opinion is purely down to personal judgement and everyone has a right to express their own, however, targeting individuals with significant abuse for a couple of likes or retweets isn't the way to go about disagreeing with fellow fan opinion.
It’s seen all too often where an innocent opinion is immediately quashed or made a mockery of just because it’s unpopular or deemed irrelevant or moronic by those who probably don't know any better themselves. To add to this, this is often a form of bullying which we, both as a club and supporters, have 0% tolerance for as I’m sure you'll all agree.
This is relevant on all levels, irrespective of who or where it comes from, be it on someone’s twitter post, or on someone’s article, at the end of the day, it’s purely opinionated. We also often see sarcastic shares and retweets of such content for the purpose of getting others to jump on the bandwagon, regardless of their personal opinion, most people will just go with the popular flow which isn’t always advised.
At LOV, we’ve learnt to deal with it, often in the form of laughing at it, but this might not be so straight forward to cope with for those with particularly low self-esteem or of a young age or are just generally inexperienced and uneducated about having to just unfortunately accept the brutality that comes with having an online presence.
However, this never excuses purposefully targeting others with abuse just because you don't like what you see, theres a difference between constructive criticism and straight abuse, both of which there’s a fix for which is if you don't like what you're seeing then unfollow them or just simply ignore it. As the saying goes, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
Enough moaning, let’s get on to the good stuff. Don’t get me wrong, we as an online community, have the power to be an extremely positive and influential fanbase which we already grow to accommodate new supporters, different types of supporters, different genders of supporters and all ages.
Having already proven that in the flesh at the Macron as we are renowned for being a family club. I therefore hope that we can do the same on social media rather than making outcasts and excluding those who don't deserve to be, particularly when discussing the one thing we all have in common.
I therefore ask all of you, using this incredible outlet, and with the online freedom that you all have, to make an effort to help to present ourselves as a club who’s fanbase can be used as a benchmark and as role models which you have the ability to impact.
Not only should you do this for the benefit of our fanbase, but for yourselves, take pride in doing it as if you would stood in front of the world’s eagerly anticipating press. Given how influential social media has become, you never know where it might get you one day...
There’s your food for thought for the day, go out there and make an impression, ensuring its a positive one whilst you're at it. Admittedly this isn’t quite your average LOV article, so thank you for giving me your time and letting me waffle on to you. I ultimately hope that this will help influence you to help to make BWFC social media a better community to be a part of.